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34 University of Illinois researcher teams awarded allocations on powerful Blue Waters supercomputer

Thirty-four research teams at the University of Illinois have been awarded an allocation of computation time on the sustained petascale Blue Waters supercomputer, one of the most powerful high-performance computing systems in the world, located at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF). This allocation process, the final round of Illinois allocations, has awarded over 5.5 million node-hours to University of Illinois researchers, valued at nearly $3.7 million. Over its lifetime, Illinois allocations have provided more than 50M node hours valued at over $31 million to University of Illinois researchers.

This year’s allocations, which include nine additional exploratory awards, range from 500,000 node-hours to 20,000 node-hours, and seek to study issues big and small, spanning from the investigation of binary star mergers deep in space to simulations of individual cells.

Allocations on Blue Waters, which is capable of producing quadrillions of calculations every second, are highly sought-after by researchers due to its sheer computational power, robustly balanced architecture and massive scale. Blue Waters allows scientists and researchers to tackle some of the world’s most pressing problems, regardless of subject-matter, more quickly than ever before thanks to the power of efficient parallel computing.

The Illinois allocations process allows Blue Waters to be utilized by University of Illinois faculty, giving researchers on campus an opportunity to use an extremely valuable computational resource. In turn, this furthers the University of Illinois’ mission to foster discovery and innovation, with about 2 percent of the capacity of Blue Waters allocated annually to projects at the University through a campus-wide peer-review process.

Applications for Illinois allocations on Blue Waters were accepted through mid March, 2018. This is the final round of Illinois allocation awards.


  • Rafael Omar Tinoco Lopez, Som Dutta and Paul Fischer — “Investigation of Sediment and Nutrient Fluxes through Aquatic Vegetation using Large-scale High-fidelity Turbulence Simulations” (480 KNH)
  • Edgar Solomonik — “Benchmarking and Tuning Numerical Tensor Libraries” (20 KNH)
  • Milton Javier Ruiz, Stuart Shapiro and Antonios Tsokaros — “Gravitational and Electromagnetic Signatures of Compact Binary Mergers: General Relativistic Simulations at the Petascale” (500 KNH)
  • David Bianchi, Tyler Earnest, Michael Hallock and Zan Luthey-Schulten — “Whole Cell Simulations of a Minimal Cell” (150 KNH)
  • Eliu Huerta, Roland Haas, Gabrielle Allen, Edward Seidel and Zhizhen Zhao — “Simulation, Modeling and Searches of Multimessenger Sources with the Blue Waters Supercomputer” (425 KNH)
  • Lucas Wagner — “A Data-Centered Approach to Studying Electronic Behavior in Superconductors and Correlated Electron Systems” (230 KNH)
  • Christopher Maffeo, David Winogradoff, Kush Coshic and Aleksei Aksimentiev — “Resolving the Structure of Viral Genomes with Atomic Precision” (400 KNH)
  • Matthew Hudson, Liudmila Mainzer and Yan Asmann — “Identification of Novel Genomic Variants in Alzheimer’s Disease” (280 KNH)
  • Matthew West and Jeffrey Curtis — “Simulating Fine Aerosol Particles for Human Exposure using the High-detail Particle-resolved Aerosol Model WRF-PartMC” (280 KNH)
  • Tandy Warnow — “Improving Homology Detection, Gene Binning and Multiple Sequence Alignment” (100 KNH)
  • Diwakar Shukla — “Mechanism of Nitrate Transport in Plants” (400 KNH)
  • Rebecca Smith, Rebecca Stumpf, Joanna Shisler, Than Huong Nguyen and Tandy Warnow — “Viral Transmission Dynamics at the Human-Wildlife Interface in Western Uganda” (80 KNH)
  • Donald Wuebbles, Xin-Zhong Liang and Swarnali Sanyal — “Particulate Matter Prediction and Source Attribution for U.S. Air Quality Management in a Changing World”
  • Kaiyu Guan — “Forecasting Crop Productivity using Novel Satellite Data and Process-based Models: Scaling Up to the Whole U.S. Corn Belt” (200 KNH)
  • Taras Pogorelov, Chad Rienstra and Martin Burke — “How Amphotericin, the Antifungal Drug of Last Resort, Captures Sterols: The Good and the Bad?” (200 KNH)
  • Alina Kononov and Andre Schleife — Non-adiabatic Electron-ion Dynamics in Ion-irradiated Two-dimensional Materials” (200 KNH)
  • Bradley Sutton and Alex Cerjanic — Accelerating Imaging-based Biomarker Development through HPC” (250 KNH)
  • Mark Neubauer, Philip Chang, Robert Gardner, Dave Lesny and Dewen Zhong — “Deep Learning for Higgs Boson Identification and Searches for New Physics at the Large Hadron Collider” (225 KNH)
  • Elif Ertekin — “Accelerating Thermoelectric Materials Discovery via Dopability Predictions” (185 KNH)
  • Xiaodong Song — “Modeling the Structure of the Earth’s Deep Interior from 3D Wave-propagation Simulation and Seismic Noise Interferometry” (160 KNH)
  • Aida El-Khadra, Zecharaiah Gelzer and Ruth Van de Water — “A Lattice QCD Study of the Contribution of Two-pion States to the Hadronic Vacuum Polarization Correction of the Muon’s Magnetic Movement” (225 KNH)
  • Wendy Tam Cho, Yan Liu and Simon Rubinstein-Salzedo — “Massively Parallel Evolutionary Markov Chain Monte Carlo for Sampling Complicated Multimodal State Spaces” (100 KNH)
  • Patricia Gregg — “Forecasting Volcanic Unrest and Eruption Potential using Statistical Data Assimilation” (85 KNH)
  • Moshe Matalon — “Outwardly Expanding Premixed Flames in Turbulent Media” (80 KNH)
  • Mao Ye — “Understanding Traders at Nano-second Time Scale” (80 KNH)

Exploratory Awards

  • William Gropp and Erin Molloy — “Optimizing a Distributed-memory Parallel Code for Constructing Ultra-large Phylogenetic Trees on Blue Waters” (50 KNH)
  • Luke Olson — “Utilizing Machine Topology and Heterogeneity in Numerical Algorithms” (50 KNH)
  • Levent Gurel, Wen-Mei Hwu and Mert Hidayetoglu — “Parallel MLFMA on Heterogeneous CPU-GPU Architectures for Imaging and Inverse Scattering” (50 KNH)
  • Charles Gammie and Patrick Mullen — “High Resolution Simulations of the Moon-forming Giant Impact” (30 KNH)
  • Marc Snir — “Detecting Silent Data Corruptions in Exascale Applications” (40 KNH)
  • Wei Chen and Andrew Ferguson — “Collective Variable Discovery and Enhanced Sampling in Biomolecular Simulation using Autoencoders” (30 KNH)
  • Michael Nute, Rebecca Stumpf and Karthik Yarlagadda — “Dissertation: In Search of a Quantitative Definition of the Gut Microbiome in Inflammatory Bowel Disease through Big Data” (50 KNH)
  • Iwan Duursma and Hsin-Po Wang — “Tutte Polynomials and Performances of Individual Rows of Reed-Muller Codes of Length 64 and 128 on Erasure Channels” (20 KNH)
  • Matias Carrasco Kind and Brandon Buncher — “Classifying Large-scale Structure Galaxies using Machine Learning” (35 KNH)

About NCSA

The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign provides supercomputing and advanced digital resources for the nation’s science enterprise. At NCSA, University of Illinois faculty, staff, students, and collaborators from around the globe use advanced digital resources to address research grand challenges for the benefit of science and society. NCSA has been advancing one third of the Fortune 50® for more than 30 years by bringing industry, researchers, and students together to solve grand challenges at rapid speed and scale.

About NCSA’s Blue Waters project

The Blue Waters petascale supercomputer is one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Blue Waters uses hundreds of thousands of computational cores to achieve peak performance of more than 13 quadrillion calculations per second. With 1.5 petabytes of memory, Blue Waters has faster data storage than any other open system in the world. Scientists and engineers across the country use the computing and data power of Blue Waters to tackle a wide range of interdisciplinary challenges. Recent advances that were not possible without these resources include computationally designing the rst set of antibody prototypes to detect the Ebola virus, simulating the HIV capsid, visualizing the formation of the first galaxies and exploding stars, and understanding how the layout of a city can impact supercell thunderstorms.

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